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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Why FIFA's corruption scandal has provided conflicting views as to why the ‘beautiful' game may be in jeopardy.

I have decided to base my Extended Project Qualification on corruption within the game of football. This is a subject matter that has spanned over a decade mainly revolving around football's main governing body... Fifa. This has seen many influential figures within the game of football receiving substantial bans, due to their involvement within Fifa's corruption scandal.

This corruption scandal involving Fifa has had a detrimental impact upon the two most significant and most important members within Fifa's corporation which are Sepp Blatter and Michel platini. Sepp Blatter received a six-year ban, where-as Michel platini had his six-year ban reduced to four years. Furthermore, these bans had significant implications upon Fifa as Michel Platini had to resign as the head of UEFA, and most importantly Sepp Blatter's 17-year reign as the head of Fifa was ended after he received his six-year ban. Both Platini and Blatter were “found guilty of a series of… breaches” as the guardian stated. These breaches involved a 1.35-million-pound payment from Sepp Blatter to Michel Platini in 2011. The reason this payment was questioned was because there was a lack of conclusive evidence by both Blatter and Platini as to why there was a 1.35-million-pound payment. Nonetheless the misdemeanours affiliated with both Blatter and Platini have put the legitimacy of other international and European in jeopardy due to corruption questions surfacing.

The 2022 world cup hosting rights were awarded to Qatar, however mainly believe the selection process was ‘rigged' due to belief that Qatar bought these hosting rights. This yet again is another alleged example of corruption within Fifa. The reasons why this decision draws questions is because this world cup in 2022 will have to be moved to the winter, due to extreme heat in Qatar. Firstly, it will be the first time a world cup tournament will not be played during the summer, thus breaking the summer tradition. On the other hand, people also have questions, because moving the world cup from summer to winter will have a substantial financial impediment upon the major European leagues. These financial impediments arise from the major European leagues having to be cut short or be played either side of the world cup. These questions ultimately arise as this decision in regards to the hosting rights of the 2022 world cup occurred under Sepp Blatter's rule. Furthermore, this idea of corruption is further supported by claims that Sepp Blatter still receives payment even though he has been banned for six-years. According to the Independent Sepp Blatter received 1.7 million dollars during his investigation from September 2015 to February 2016. Furthermore, the Independent believes Blatter will receive a final payment of 6 million dollars from his contract, even though he is banned from all football activity and involvement.

Sepp Blatter's ban has shrouded his reign underneath veil of impenetrable darkness as every major tournament decision underneath his reign has been questioned and investigated. For example, the 2010 world cup which was hosted in South Africa has been questioned. As US prosecutors believe a $10 million deal between the then South African President, Thabo Mbeki and Sepp Blatter was a bribe deal which was agreed by both men or parties. US prosecutors believe Jack Warner acted as the middle man in regards to the widrawal and laundering of this money. This can be portrayed as another example of corruption as six-years later Jack Warner according to BBC news has been “banned for life from football activities”. This yet again acts as an example of major tournaments which have occurred under Sepp Blatter's as impediments to the ‘beautiful game'. This is further highlighted by Charles Blazer who worked at Fifa from 2004-11 as the secretary of the confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean association football. He said to BBC news that he and other Fifa executives “agreed to accept bribes in connection with the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 world cup”. This revelation by Charles Blazer is a clear revelation of corruption occurring within football's main governing body Fifa. Another example of a major tournament being questioned is the 2018 world cup which is going to be hosted in Russia. There are many questions surrounding Sepp Blatter's statement which was “For the World cups it was agreed that we go to Russia, because it's never been in Russia”. This led many headlines for example the Independent put forth a headline which said “Sepp Blatter reveals agreement in place for Russia to host 2018 world cup before vote”. Such statements by Sepp Blatter are interpreted as a corruption scandal, particularly after he was banned for six-years from all football involvement and activity. This once again provides a clear explanation to many that there was and still is corruption within football main governing body… Fifa.

The Us government took a stance in which Sky Sports revealed that the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch charged 16 current and former members of Fifa on corruption charges on December 4th 2015 as the corruption scandal began to grow. The “investigation uncovered around £132 pounds' worth of bribes and kickbacks” according to Sky sports.  These bribes and kickbacks often related to TV and marketing deals in “north, south and central America and the Caribbean”. This involved many high-profile names within the game of football. For example, Ricardo Teixeira who was the former Brazilian federation head, as well as the former son-in-law of ex-Fifa president Joao Havelange, thus highlighting his significance and importance. Ultimately such charges illustrate how far corruption had truly submerged within the core of Fifa's corporation. As Loretta Lynch said “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systematic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States”. This statement stem from the discovery of $197 million bribes dating back to 1995-96 two years before Sepp Blatter became Fifa president. Therefore, indicating that corruption has always been present within Fifa, but only made truly explicit in the last 8-14 months. Thus the ‘beautiful' game has been endangered, however it truly became ‘doomed' under Sepp Blatter's futile 17-year reign. Furthermore, even more recently sky news revealed that investigators found “$110 million in bribes relating to the planning of the 2016 Copa America, which is being held in the Us for the first time. This is another example of a major International tournament under Sepp Blatter rule which has a ‘cloud' of suspicion surrounding and hovering over it. This is because of “soccer officials, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks” as the Telegraph stated. Thus illustrating as why these soccer officials ultimately indulge in corruption, even though it has a major hindrance upon football and the requisite parts that make up the whole entity of the ‘beautiful' game.

Sepp Blatter once again was in the news for all the wrong reasons on 3rd June 2016. This time it was after CNN reported that Fifa's financial lawyers revealed that Sepp Blatter and two other colleagues awarded themselves significant “pay raises and bonuses totalling $80 million over their final five years in office”. These bonuses mainly came from World cup incentives… which are the most scrutinised aspect or area under Blatter's reign. This revelation has led to numerous Fifa officials and corporate executives located in New York being charged for knowledge or involvement within these kickbacks by Blatter and two other colleagues. This indicates that corruption ultimately run so deep under Blatter reign. Furthermore, Blatter was also alleged to have received $23.5 million after the 2010 South African World cup, which is his most scrutinised world cup due various corruption revelations from Jack Warner to Charles Blazer. All these indicate to many that Blatter ultimately favoured financially benefitting himself over the overall image of football and himself, thus further buffering all the corruption allegations and charges put forth. These bonuses far outweigh Blatter's salary which stood at $6 million per annum. With all this information put forth, the overwhelming evidence is that these corruption charges upon Fifa and particularly Sepp Blatter are entirely accurate and have a substantial platform to build up on. These conclusive illustrate that Sepp Blatter ultimately endangered the ‘beautiful' game due to a futile and possibly incompetent reign if all these charges put against him come to fruition. This endemic corruption within football can lead to severe compromise in regards to the quality of play on the field, as well as creating the possibility for the growth of the game globally due to how corruption endangered the game of football.

However, in contrary to how corruption may have endangered football… the game of football continues to grow globally. This growth stems from the global influence the World cup has had. This is significant as the World cup is the most scrutinised aspect of Sepp Blatter's reign as many believe the most significant level of corruption occurred within the selling rights of the world cup. However, 90% of “FIFA'S revenue is generated through the sale of television, marketing, hospitality and licensing rights for the FIFA World Cup” as FIFA.com states. Furthermore, FIFA also made an $527 million from the ticketing rights of the 2014 World Cup. In total the FIFA World cup in Brazil 2014 generated “$4.8 billion in revenue for FIFA” according to the UK Business Insider. This substantial revenue enables FIFA even with all its corruption scandal to become a bigger business each quadrennial. This equates or translates to FIFA and especially football as sport to gain traction within countries such as US and China, which inevitably creates new markets on a global scale, thus bolstering the power and influence the game of football has on the world stage. Firstly, the growth of football has had a significant impact within China. This growth in China is predominantly due to exponential influx within the Chinese market, however this influx in money is also predominantly due to the exposure that the fans in China have towards the game of football. China's main domestic football league, known as the Chinese Super League began by attracting unknown veterans from the Brazilian league who were looking for a final payday. This process began when this League was founded in 2004. Moreover, as time went by, and the game of football continued to grow and expand China grew at such a rate that they could acquire some of “Europe's great talents” according to Will Unwin of ITV. This notable growth was visible by Jiangsu Suning who picked up Ramires from Chelsea for a deal worth £25 million. Moreover, other Chinese clubs also further highlighted this growth within the Chinese game by conveying their ‘deep' pockets. Guangzhou Evergrande picked up Jackson Martinez from Champions League runners- up Atletico Madrid for £30 million. This financial muscle in China also sees players being paid a significant amount of money. For example, Alex Teixeira who is uncapped by Brazil is receiving £9.6 million per annum, in comparison to Neymar who has 70 caps for Brazil, as well as being recognised as one of the best football players in the world receives £8.5 million. This disparity in income is astonishing due to the difference in ability and global image. To further illustrate the growth within the game of Football in China, Guangzhou overcame interest from Liverpool who are recognised as one of the most decorated in European football. This continuous growth of football is China predominantly due to the recent investment received as well as the increased level of interest within football in China. As Richard Battle the senior consultant at Deloitte states “the scale of China's economy and the current appetite for investment in sport present an unprecedented and unrivalled opportunity for the growth of football”. Moreover, Richard Battle believes sustained improvement and success both on and off the pitch will “determine China's standing in the global game over years to come”. One can concur that from China's recent growth globally means that there has been significant on and off the field improvement since 2004 when the Chinese Super League was established. Improve attendances, rising to an average of 22,000 turning up for Super League games is another indicator that illustrates the growth of football both on and off the field in China. This puts it just behind the German Bundesliga, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A. Therefore, the Chinese Super league has a greater average attendance than the French ligue 1, Portuguese Primeira Liga and many other International leagues, thus illustrating the meteoric rise of football in China. Another reason as to why football is becoming so popular in China is as a result of more games being televised, due to the more money being “pumped” into football. This can be further highlighted by a “$1.25 billion Super League rights deal” which was agreed over five years according to the ITV. This meteoric in football within China has provided anticipation in regards to a good and developing national team as Sven Goran Eriksson said “The football is improving all the time and they are very ambitious with the national team”. This ideology is seen as another reason China can attract good footballers, which ultimately equates to an improvement of football within the Chinese Super League. An example of this ambition can be seen by Guangzhou Evergrande who have built a brand new academy who according to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Manuel Angel “are unparalled. No one else has developed a project of this magnitude”. The main example of growth is that Guangzhou were assisted by Real Madrid. This is significant as it illustrates an ever growing global status within China, to the level that they now have a relationship with the World's richest and most expensive club in Real Madrid. This collaboration with Real Madrid enabled Guangzhou to house 2,200 students as well as acquire 22 Spanish coaches, whom all have some experience at or with Real Madrid. Moreover, this global expansion did not just occur in Spain, but also in England. This saw China's President Xi visit Manchester city's new training complex as a sign or bid to “underline his commitment to the sport” as the Telegraph states. This visit by President Xi to one of the major clubs in Europe epitomizes China's desire to boost the profile of the Chinese Super League its main top-flight football league. This growth once again pivots from the increased exposure of football to Chinese, as Sven Goran Eriksson said “Football is on the TV all the time”, hence emphasizing why the game of football has grown and developed exponentially in China.

Likewise, to how the growth of football in China, is an example that FIFA's corruption may not have hampered the growth of football globally, the expansion of the sport in the US is another representation that football is still growing globally. One astonishing example is the significance in revenue for US TV stations. During the 2011 Women's World Cup ESPN earned $6 million from advertisement revenue, in comparison to FOX receiving over $40 million in advertisement revenue for the 2015 Women's World Cup. This discrepancy in revenue is a sample that interprets that the game of football has grown to such a level that Women's football is now comparable or possibly more popular and enticing than other male dominated US sports such as basketball and hockey. This was conveyed and supported by an estimated 25.4 million Americans watching the Women's World Cup finals. This is number is greater than the NBA Finals at 19.94 million viewers and the Stanley Cup finals for hockey which was watched by an estimated 5.5 million viewers. This number was only bettered by the NCAA Men's basketball tournament which ‘racked' in an estimated 28.3 million viewers and the Super Bowl which was watched by more than 114.4 million people. This growth in popularity for Women's football serves as an indicator that Football is growing in popularity in America. The growth in football within the US can also be seen as a direct coloration to the increased interest in football by 12-17 year olds in the US. This intrigue and interest has grown so profusely that football, only trails Basketball as the second most popular sport for children aged 12-17. This popularity also results in more children aged 12-17 engaging with the sport of football in the US. Hence the number of participants aged 12-17 that play football has grown from 1.6 million in 1990, to over 3 million in 2014. The Wall street Journal states that football is “larger than baseball by about 1 million participants”. This is further highlighted by the 80 existing Soccer Development Youth academies across the US. These leagues teach about the International leagues of England, Spain, Italy and many others across Europe. Thus all these youth academies culminate to an increased level in participation of youths aged 12-17. The growth of football in the US is not just as a result of their respective men and women's national team, however the US main national league the Major League Soccer (MLS) also attracts large crowds. The average attendance per game of an MLS match stood at 21,023… thus possessing a greater average league attendance than the French Ligue 1 as well as the Dutch Eredivisie. This according to Umbel.com is a “40% increase over the last 10 years”. This translated to 1.6 million viewers during the MLS cup final between LA Galaxy and the New England Revolution in 2014. The growth of US football is further displayed by the UK TV deal with Sky Sports News for the television of certain MLS games. This global connection within the UK is further clarification that football within the US has grown globally. Moreover, more and more in the US have been tuning in to watch European football. This was illustrated by the 2015 Champions League final having 2.2 million viewers on FOX Networks, as well as the English Premier League attracting an average of 425,000 viewers. Furthermore, an exhibition match between Manchester United and Real Madrid drew in 109,318 at Michigan Stadium, which was the largest ever for a live football match in the US. This attraction is another example of the substantial global growth within the game of football in the US. This global growth has enabled sufficient and sustainable connections between European ‘super' clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, who have played a great number of friendly or pre-season games in the US. This frequent participation is due to the global growth of US football. To provide a greater sample size as to why Football has grown in the US is the increased range and variety of broadcasting by TV networks. For example, the number of TV networks broadcasting football games has grown from 5 in 2010 to more than 13 in 2015. Additionally, the average cost for a 30-second advertisement during the Women's World Cup was greater than $210,000. Moreover an advert that related to the Germany and Argentina Men's World cup final in 2014 earned an average of $465,000, which was greater than that of the NBA Finals. Besides the increased television broadcasting, the increased popularity of football in the US has also led to increased sponsorship from major US sponsors, particularly Nike. A company such as Nike has provided millions of dollars for the provision of football training as well as the building of facilities for children, coaches and also the national team are all being aided by Nike and their financial and most importantly their global power. This increased wealth of football in the U.S. has paved the path for the many football celebrities to join MLS clubs, albeit at the ‘latter' stage of their respective careers. These celebrities are players such David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo all joining New York City Fc. Another example is Kaka joining Orlando city soccer club to go alongside previous players such David Beckham and Thierry Henry. The main significance of these footballers playing in the MLS is that it helps expand and increase the global fan base of the MLS from the US all the way to Brazil due to Kaka as well as Spain and Italy after the arrival of both David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. These football celebrities have also contributed to the increased merchandize sales in conjunction with elevated levels of sponsorship and advertising revenue, enables them to be strong role models for younger football players in the U.S. This is ultimately due to their greater status and accolades within the game of football by players such as Kaka and Pirlo in comparison to a large majority of the players that play in the MLS. Therefore an increase in global superstars, even if they might be at the back-end of their careers… will inevitably culminate and translate with the increased popularity of football in the U.S. For this reason it truly understandable why one wold concur and conclude that even though FIFA's corruption scandal has had an impact, the overall growth and development of football has not been hampered, but rather has evolved and grown, which makes the game or sport of football a global powerhouse. Thus FIFA's corruption scandal has not put the game of football in jeopardy.

However, in contrast to the progress and growth illustrated by football in China and the U.S. the progress and growth of the game remains slow. This slow progress can be conveyed as a result of the corruption scandal that has plagued FIFA for the last two years. Pelé said in 1977 that “an African nation would win the World Cup by the end of the 20th century. However, no African has ever qualified to the semi-final of a World Cup. In addition, the greatest success in recent memory of an African nation performing to a tolerable level was when Ghana qualified to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The phrase that ultimately began plaguing African football is that “they can play, but they can never win”. This phrase is an accurate representation of the huge potential and talent, but poor conversion of the plethora of talent in Africa. Moreover, another reason as to why the progress of African football has been halted can be seen as a direct result of the bests talents having to ply their trade at host of European clubs, in which there is a huge discrepancy between clubs or on the other hand African players moving to the middle east to find adequate and relatively healthy competition. This continuous movement abroad affects the quality of grassroots football in Africa. With the best players moving abroad to find ‘healthy' football, there is ultimately an adequate level of football being played at the grassroots level in Africa. The are no significant major leagues in Africa that can attract established football just like the MLS and the Chinese Super League have shown they are very capable of doing. Furthermore, another issue is that when such players from Africa move aboard and are at the back-end of their careers they rarely ever return back to Africa. For example, players such Didier Drogba and Michael Essien have no intention of returning back to Africa. Drogba who is 38 years old is now plying his trade in the MLS as he plays for Montreal impact, and on the other hand Michael Essien who is 33 years old now plays in the Greek league for Panathinaikos. This lack of migration back to Africa also translates to many other notable African players such as Samuel Eto'o and many others who have decided not to return, predominantly due to the lack of financial incentive, but also as a result of the poor competition in Africa. In reverse notable footballers within Europe's top leagues are always happy to return to their country or continent to play football. One notable example is Carlos Tevez who played for Juventus in 2015 and helped them reach the champions league final, where they lost to Barcelona. However, such contribution illustrates his ability to play at high level especially as he still plays for his national team of Argentina with payers such as Messi, Sergio Agüero and others. Tevez decided to join Boca Juniors his boy-hood club during the summer of 2015. Even though he wanted to return back to Argentina the main reason was that he knew the Argentinian Primera Division was competitive enough for him to still be in contention for a call up to the national team. One could make the claim that the recent African Cup of Nations tournament held in Equatorial Guinea can be portrayed as a provision of hope that African Nations may be on the path towards sustainable International success. This particularly holds true for the finalists Ghana and the winners Ivory Coast who boast a large contingent of notable and successful footballers such as Segre Aurier, Yaya Toure who play for PSG and Manchester City respectively, two teams that met in the Champions League Quarter-finals with Manchester City prevailing. Despite this increased talent pool in Africa the question whether African football can be formidable at the International level still prevails, and one could say this could be at a greater number than in previous years. This is a result of an opening of global markets in football that has enabled overseas clubs, especially European clubs to take advantage of the sub-par standard of grassroots football in Africa, by offering young talents lucrative deals at a very young age, which ultimately serves as a greater sense of appeal to these young players. One notable example is Didier Drogba who moved to France to play for Abbeville at the age of 11, as his youth career blossomed. Since the 2010 FIFA World Cup there have been projects in hope to improve the level of grassroots football in Africa. One notable example was the ‘Win in Africa with Africa' launched by FIFA with a budget of over $39 million which supplied 52 out of the 54 countries in Africa with FIFA standard high quality pitches, in hope to provide greater accessibility to pitches for footballers in Africa, thus increasing the opportunity of people playing. Nonetheless this project has struggled to curtail the increased migration to European leagues by African players. According to World soccer. Com during the 2012/13 football season “36 African players featured in the Premier League, 125 in Ligue 1, 27 in La Liga, 22 in the Bundesliga and 24 in Serie A. Therefore the phrase “they can play, but they can never win” is applicable due to a significant discourse in talent within African teams… this comes as a result of a difference in the level of football played and experienced. Thus in comparison to other International teams especially those from Europe and South America such Germany and Chile there is a compelling difference of talent as well as balance within African teams. With economic disadvantages in Africa in comparison to the financial welfare in Europe, in conjunction with European clubs attracting the best talents in Africa, one can conclude that the overall growth and development of football in Africa has declined as it reverting back to its beginnings as a consequence of a lack improvement in the overall competition as well as the poor equipment and facilities in comparison to the better and far more advanced facilities and equipment found overseas in Europe. Thus all these issues culminated together along with the corruption scandal of FIFA has equated to growth and development of football in Africa being extremely slow, or worse being halted. Therefore the even though football has continued to evolve and grow globally, especially in the U.S. and China, Africa is one example that illustrates that the growth and development of football does not translate to every continent, especially with question marks surrounding FIFA, Africa is one notable example that FIFA's corruption scandal can or may lead to the  ‘beautiful' game being in jeopardy.

   

    

    

    

   

   

    

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